Sunday, November 6, 2016

Just This and That...

A friendly reminder that this Tuesday, November 8th, is Election Day here in the USA!  I don't know if the election is "rigged" and our "votes don't count" as some people claim, but I refuse to be deterred and will be at the polling place exercising my "right to vote" this Tuesday...and hope you will, too!

For those of you who have Netflix, The Crown came out this past Friday.  I've been looking forward to it since I first saw the trailer for it!  

I watched all 10 episodes this weekend while quilting, and boy, oh boy, IT IS GOOD!!!  Well acted, excellent scenery/props, and powerful story line!!!  

I would recommend watching The King's Speech beforehand, if you haven't already seen it, because it gives the history of events that lead up to Queen Elizabeth even being in line for succession to the Throne and the family dynamics will make more sense to you then.  (Great history lesson for those of us Yanks that aren't privy to that history.)

So what was I working on while watching this...???...

...twenty more blocks for the West Virginia Chapter of Quilts of Valor...

Sewing/quilting went a little slower for me while watching The Crown because I had to have subtitles on.   I can't always understand their English I would listen when I could, but there were times I had to rely on subtitles...hence, slowing down the rate I was able to quilt.  Just be forewarned that the show is VERY interesting, so be prepared to devote some time to actually "watching" it and not just having it on for background noise!

Oh  least the time wasn't completely wasted!  Twenty blocks is twenty blocks!  They will get mailed out to the chapter's coordinator this week.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Sewing Room Changes...

Quote for the Day:
"I'm creative. You can't expect me to be neat too."
~author unknown

In September we took a trip to the closest IKEA...which happens to be in Pittsburgh...90 miles away.  I needed some things for my sewing room...

For about 12 years or so I've had one of the standard cutting tables from JoAnns.  Since I'm short, it was always a little taller than it should have been to be ergonomic for me.  I used to be 4'11.5" tall, but in the last couple of years I have shrunk...lucky me!  (The last time I was measured they told me I was just a little over 4'10"...THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT!!!)   I do know that I was having a lot of pain and issues when I would cut out a new quilt, so I decided to get a new, lower table...

This one is actually one of IKEA's kitchen tables and is standard table height.  With both sides extended out like they are in the picture, the table top is 30" x 60".  When the sides are down, it is nice and compact which is great because when we have more than 2 people stay the night I do have to use this room as a temporary guest room. 

The other item I purchased from IKEA was this small metal filing cabinet that I turned into my thread storage cabinet.  

The drawers are shallow so it neatly holds spools of thread and makes them easy to find.  It is on wheels, too, making it easy to move around when needed.

top three drawers...

bottom three drawers...

all drawers nicely labeled...

The thread stays neat, is easily found, and the cabinet tucks away nicely under the end of my ironing board!!!  The way my sewing room is set up, all I have to do is turn around in my sewing chair and the thread cabinet is right there!  Handy!

Though this next item doesn't have anything to do with IKEA, it is a change-up in my sewing room...

The cover to my ironing "board"...(a piece of plyboard that Andy made for me that fits snugly over my traditional ironing board)...anyway...the cover was looking NASTY!!!  Every few years I need to re-cover it, and the time was NOW.  I can't remember the last time I did it, but I know it's been more than 3 years ago.  

I meant to take a "before" picture to show how bad it was, but alas...I forgot.  :(  But take my word for was YUCKY!  

But now it's so PRETTY!!!

(You can see the new thread cabinet tucked underneath the end in the first picture.)


Monday, September 26, 2016

Quilts of Valor...

Quote for the Day:
"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate 
our heroes and she-roes!"
~Maya Angelou

This past Saturday I was honored to be able to join a sew-in for the West Virginia chapter of Quilts of Valor.  

The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.

This sew-in was organized by Beverly of Quilter's Garage, a quilt shop in Jane Lew, WV, and was held at the Community Center/Senior Center in Jane Lew.  

This is Maribeth Shreve, the coordinator of the West Virginia chapter of Quilts of Valor, showing us a completed version of the quilt we would be making that day...

There were 8-10 sewists in attendance.  The room was spacious, had great lighting, and we didn't trip the circuit breaker once with all of our irons and sewing machines!  :)

I took my trusty $2.00 Singer 301A...named Byonce (because she is a light brown singer!)  I love this machine more than my Singer Featherweights...

We were divided up into two groups and each group worked together to complete a quilt top which will then be quilted by volunteer long-arm quilters.  

Top #1...

Top #2 (the one I worked on)...

The finished quilts will be gifted to West Virginia veterans.

It was a lot of fun getting together with other quilters and working on this project...none of whom I knew previously, except for Maribeth.  But I did make some new friends that day and we all had a great time laughing, joking, and sewing...and eating (we had a potluck lunch)...while working on this very important project.  

I'll definitely be more involved with Quilts of Valor from now on!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Quilt That Almost Wasn't...

This past weekend, I FINALLY decided what design I was going to quilt on the Christmas Stars quilt and started quilting it.  However, my thread kept breaking frequently.  ARGH!!!!  I re-threaded the machine till I was blue in the face and changed my needle 3-4 know...the basics of what to do when your upper thread breaks.  

I googled "upper thread breaking" for my particular machine and I saw where some people had to use a size 16 topstitch needle in this machine when using thicker thread.  (I'm using Sulky 30 wt. cotton...this is the first time I've used a thread this thick.)  I didn't have a "topstitch" needle, but I did have a 16 "jeans/denim" needle.  Tried that.  Still breakage.  :(

I also saw that you should loosen the tension with thicker thread, so tried that as far as I dared...still breakage! now I'm about to throw this quilt in the back of the cupboard and forget about it!  Double ARGH!!!  

Then today I received an email from Superior Threads and in it they mentioned that they had a troubleshooting guide.  I went to their site and pulled up this guide.   Before I discarded the idea of finishing this quilt...or running out to Walmart for topstitch needles...or abandoning this thread and buying something else to use...I decided to follow their suggestion and loosen the tension all the way to "0" and gradually tighten it back up from there.

GUESS WHAT???  It WORKED!!!  I usually sew on this machine with the tension around "3" on Juki's scale of 1-4.  But at 1.5 I was no longer seeing the top thread on the back of the quilt sandwich and my thread is NO LONGER BREAKING!!!   In my timidity, I just hadn't loosened the tension enough before!

It is a pleasure to machine quilt once more and this quilt WILL get done!!!  I had originally hoped to enter it into the quilt show next year (borrowing it back from its recipient after Christmas), but there are too many issues with the stitching from where I was having trouble with the thread/tension, so I'm just going to have to do another quilt to enter!  ;)

My machine quilting still isn't very good, but it is getting better and I'm glad I did take the time a few months ago to practice practice practice!  It definitely made a difference.

"Done is better than perfect!"  Though it's not "done" is well on it's way to being so!  :)

This past Monday was the grand opening of the new Hobby Lobby store in Morgantown, WV.  Guess who was in attendance?  My good friend (and neighbor), Kathy, joined me.  Though neither one of spent very much there that day, I know I WILL be going back in the future!  It's nice to finally have one in our area!

We spent the rest of the day together going to ACMoore and then out to eat and had a great time together!  It's always nice to spend some relaxed time with a good friend who "gets" you!  


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

More Quilting Going On...

I've been making more selvage blocks over the last couple of weeks, but instead of making them so scrappy as I had started out, I decided I wanted a more "controlled scrappy" look.  I decided to use a blue calico and a white-on-white for the star points and background.  The center of the stars are the scrappy blocks made with the selvages.  

The blue and white fabrics are from my stash, so no wallets were harmed in the making of these blocks!  :D

I have 27 blocks finished right now and many, many, many more selvage centers that still to have star points added to them.  The blocks are 8" finished.  I don't know how big the quilt will be...but basically, it will be as big as I have blocks for when I'm done!  I have used all the selvages with wording/number/dots from my selvage basket.  The only selvages I have left now are the ones that have no white at all or only plain white with fabric, but no words, numbers, or dots.  I plan on using all of those selvages to try my hand at fabric-covered clothesline bowls.  

My "Christmas Stars" quilt is sandwiched and ready for me to start machine quilting on it.  I have to figure out if I'm going to try some sort of design in the body of it or just do meandering in the body and then a design in the borders.  Still thinking on these things...waiting for the quilt to speak to me and tell me what it wants!  :D


2016 Grafton Beautification Project...

This past April, our little town of Grafton, WV, was pelted with lemons...I mean hail balls.  Grafton was instantly inundated with insurance adjusters from every company imaginable!  Next came the contractors...and finding someone to so body work on your car was impossible because of all the damage!  

Our house damage consisted of holes in the house siding on the north side (the direction the hail came from), broken shutters, dented gutters and downspouts, and dings in the roofing shingles.  As for our cars, both of Andy's cars look like someone took a ball-ping hammer to them...the Baja got totaled by the insurance company, but we didn't have full-coverage on his old Forester.  
The insurance company covered a lot of the damage...roof, gutters, downspouts, etc...but would only pay to replace the siding and shutters on the north side of the house that got damaged.   Unfortunately, both the siding and shutters were 16 years old and faded...and couldn't be "matched" we decided to throw in the extra money to have the entire house re-sided completely and all new shutters.  We also decided to go ahead and have the last 4 original-to-the-house windows and the front cement steps replaced while we were at it.

Last week the contractors finished up their part.  Now there are a couple of things we need to do to truly finish it off, but we can do those things over the next couple of weeks as the weather cools down a little and becomes a little more bearable!  

The new siding color is slightly darker and less "yellow" than the previous color.  The previous shutters were Wedgewood Blue and slatted...the new ones are black and solid.

The white area between the porch floor and the ground is where Andy & I are going to put up Airstone in the Autumn Mountain color.  That is the same color of Airstone that we put in our kitchen...

Continuing to the north side of the house...this is the side that got the majority of the damage...about 40 holes in the siding and all 4 sets of shutters were damaged as well as the metal wrap around the windows.  We also replace the stove pipe since it was grungy-looking!

This is the south and west sides of the house...the three windows across the upper back are 3 of the 4 new windows.  (I don't have a picture of the 4th window, but it is a crank-out "awning" window in the bathroom.)

Because of the extensive damage throughout Grafton, almost all of the houses are getting new roofs and many, many, many of them are also getting new siding...thus why I have been referring to it as the "2016 Grafton Beautification Project"!  LOL

I LOVE the way our house turned out!  I will post more pictures when we get the Airstone done in the front!


Monday, August 15, 2016

A Quilt Showing and A New Project...

Quote for the Day:
"In this world, there's always going to be people who are better then you, so stop comparing yourself to others, and just be the best you."
~author unknown

Our local quilt group, the Millennium Quilters, held their quilt show.  I had never entered any of my quilts in a show before because:  1)  I give away almost all of my quilts so never have one here to enter;  and 2)  I don't think my work is "show-worthy".  

I wasn't going to enter one this year because the only quilt that I have of the six I made last year was the one I sent out to be long-armed and there isn't enough quilting on the borders, and knew I'd get dinged for that.  The rest of the quilt is beautifully quilted, but there just wasn't enough quilting done in the borders.  :(  I should have added more quilting there myself before I added the binding, but didn't...and if I try to add some now, it will all just pucker because of the binding being on already.  

Then about 2 weeks ago, I was laying on the decompression table at the chiropractor's office and saw the "Mr. Chillingsworth" quilt hanging on the wall...the one that I had gifted to him last year...

I asked to borrow it for the show and entered it.  The show was this past weekend and here is it hanging in the show...

Well...would you look at that???  It got "Honorable Mention" in it's class!!!  Wow!!!  Cool!!!

So...yeah...I'll be entering more quilts in future shows!  LOL

I have started on a new project...
I save the selvages off of the edge of my fabric (for those "non-quilters" out there...the selvage is what they put on the edge of the fabric to hold it onto the printing machines in the making of the fabric.  The make-up is denser and has printing on it, so you don't want to put it into your quilt.  However, many people save them and make them into a separate quilt...aptly named "selvage quilts"!)

This is what my selvage basket looked like...time to use them up!!!

I am making these star blocks using up some leftover 2.5" HST's from other projects as well as some new ones made with my new Accuquilt GO...all made from my scraps!!!   The selvages are foundation-pieced to used dryer sheets...which I press lightly with a cool iron, then cut down to 4.5" using my Accuquilt GO.  (I use my dryer sheets 2-3 times in the dryer before using them in a quilt to make sure there are no more oils or softener on them.  Once the softener is gone from them, they are merely a lightweight piece of non-woven material...similar to very lightweight interfacing.  I keep an empty tissue box on the dryer to put the used dryer sheets in when I pull clothes from the dryer.)

These blocks are so much fun to make and go rather quickly because there is no sewing/flipping/pressing like with other blocks.  Here is the tutorial I used:  I use all the selvages...not just the ones with writing.  Here is a YouTube video showing how to make a selvage block, too, for those of you who like to actually see them being made:  

This is what the creative mess process looks like in my sewing room...

Hope this gives you some ideas of what to do with that fabric that you've been cutting off and not using.